BY SHEILA R. McAFEE
A familiar face is back at the Trenton Board of Education table.
Former school board member Jerry Brown was selected from a field of three to fill the seat vacated by Wayne Sieloff, who moved out of the district after being named chief executive officer for Lansing’s Capital Region Airport Authority.
Following interviews in early October, Brown accepted the appointment to serve the remainder of Sieloff’s term, which expires Dec. 31, 2018. His first meeting was Oct. 23. The other two residents vying for the seat were James DeRupa and Janis Marie Cox.
“After several people encouraged me to apply, I inquired about it and gave (the position) serious thought,” he said, noting that he has until next summer to decide whether he’ll seek election for a six-year term. “I’m flattered to have been picked and proud to serve the district again.”
With several meetings already under his belt, Brown enjoys being back in the role. He served on the board from 1990-2001, leaving when he was elected mayor. He was unseated in 2011 by current Mayor Kyle Stack.
Brown also had a 29-year law enforcement career with the Trenton Police Department, serving as Chief of Police from 1992 until he retired from the force in 1999. Since he left elected office, Brown has been working part-time as a facility security officer for Detroit Steel Co., which occupies the former McLouth Steel site on West Jefferson. He handles the security checks for cargo ships bringing goods from the Atlantic through the St. Lawrence Seaway into the Great Lakes. Most ships are coming from abroad or “sailing under foreign flags,” he said, and must pass customs inspection.
It has been a fascinating job because when boarding the vessels to examine them, he gets to know the captains as he oversees the process of unloading thousands of tons of cargo, which can take several days.
As for the transition to the School Board, it has been relatively easy for Brown. Since he left the table in 2001, the district has been downsized, buildings have been sold, and policies have been modified. Technological advances brought the biggest shock, said Brown.
“Rather than getting an envelope filled with paper documents relative to an upcoming agenda, the board packet is delivered electronically,” he said. “That’s a good thing because sometimes the packets were several inches thick.”
During his last stint on the board, Brown was one of the younger members among more seasoned members like Wilbur Hass and the late Boyd Arthurs.
“They were good mentors,” said Brown. “This time, I’m more of an elder, so I’m hoping my experience helps the current board and brings some historical perspective.”